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Escrima

On April 28, 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan waded onto shore of one of the 7000-plus Philippine islands in the name of Spanish King Charles I, Chief Raja Lapulapu killed Ferdinand Magellan with a Philippine kampilan dagger by slicing his leg, then thrusting the dagger into his throat. In response, the Spanish conquerors forbid the Filipinos from carrying swords. To counter this, Filipinos combined their own sword skills with the Spaniards’ sword skills and applied them to rattan sticks, giving birth of escrima (eskrima). Although colloquially escrima is called stick fighting, the term is a Filipinization of the Spanish word esgrima, which means “fencing.”

Some circles use the word “escrima” interchangeably with the term arnis. When escrima techniques were used with bladed weapons, the art then became known as kali. Some historians prefer to lump the three arts under the umbrella of “escrima.”

It’s one of the few martial arts in the world in which practitioners must first learn how to use weapons before learning empty-hand skills. Because villagers had limited time to learn how to protect themselves from other villagers and foreign invaders, escrima training focused on using simple, easy-to-learn, battle-tested fighting skills.

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  1. FMA Up Close: Arnis Grandmaster Crispulo Atillo

    FMA Up Close: Arnis Grandmaster Crispulo Atillo

    Few people in the world can truly be called a grandmaster of arnis. Fewer still have studied with the original Filipino masters or fought in stick “death matches.” Crispulo Atillo is one of those rare people.
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  2. Modern-Arnis Techniques Master Remy Presas: A Stick-Combat Legend Remembered (Part 2)

    Modern-Arnis Techniques Master Remy Presas: A Stick-Combat Legend Remembered (Part 2)

    In Part 2 of a profile published just three years before the stick-combat legend’s death, author Jeffrey J. Delaney recalls the achievements and teaching style of modern arnis founder Remy Presas.
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  3. Modern-Arnis Techniques Master Remy Presas: A Stick-Combat Legend Remembered (Part 1)

    Modern-Arnis Techniques Master Remy Presas: A Stick-Combat Legend Remembered (Part 1)

    The life and work of modern arnis founder Remy Presas are recalled in this profile published just three years before the stick-combat legend’s death. In Part 1, author Jeffrey J. Delaney the art’s beginnings and how Presas brought it to the world.
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  4. Kali Sticks Video: Filipino Fighting Arts Master Julius Melegrito Demonstrates Sinawali Basics

    Kali Sticks Video: Filipino Fighting Arts Master Julius Melegrito Demonstrates Sinawali Basics

    Philippine Martial Arts Alliance and Phillipine Combatives System founder Julius Melegrito demonstrates sinawali using two kali sticks in this exclusive kali sticks video as excerpted from his DVD Philippine Fighting Arts — Volume 2: Double-Stick Tactics and Applications.
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  5. Julius Melegrito: Training Drill for Two Filipino Fighting Sticks

    Julius Melegrito: Training Drill for Two Filipino Fighting Sticks

    Julius Melegrito — founder of the Philippine Martial Arts Alliance and the Phillipine Combatives System — demonstrates the redonda twirling drill for two Filipino fighting sticks in this exclusive video. In the video, Julius Melegrito wields two Filipino fighting sticks at speeds approaching the appearance of helicopter rotor
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  6. Dr. Mark Cheng’s Top 10 Martial Arts for Self-Defense

    Dr. Mark Cheng’s Top 10 Martial Arts for Self-Defense

    Almost every day at Black Belt, we’re asked the same question: “What’s the best martial art for self-defense?” To find out the answer, we asked Dr. Mark Cheng, an expert in Chinese medicine and martial arts.

    “I chose the following arts because of my personal experience with them,” Dr. Mark Cheng
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  7. Richard Bustillo’s JKD Techniques: The Hammerfist Combo

    Richard Bustillo’s JKD Techniques: The Hammerfist Combo

    To help you become as successful as possible in your self-defense training, Richard Bustillo shared four of his favorite defensive jeet kune do techniques with us.
    Bustillo devoted much of his life to preserving and propagating the timeless teachings of Bruce Lee. Bustillo was one of the “Little Dragon’s” first followers
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  8. 9 Martial Arts Training Tips From Kung Fu Expert Mark Cheng

    9 Martial Arts Training Tips From Kung Fu Expert Mark Cheng

    People tell me I tend to sound like an old-timer. I tell them to shut up and get off my lawn! Then I explain that a lot can be learned from comparing the way we did things in the past with the way people do them now. Case in point:
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  9. Leo Fong: Kung Fu Artist of the Year (2006)

    Leo Fong: Kung Fu Artist of the Year (2006)

    Throughout the decades, Leo Fong has worn many hats—actor, writer, director, producer, minister, social worker and fitness coach—but his most important role has been that of kung fu master.

    Born in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), China, Leo Fong moved to Arkansas at age 4. In his youth, he used his pugilistic skills
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